Viva Magenta 18-1750 is the Pantone colour of the year 2023

3 December 2022
Magenta, Pantone colour of the year 2023

When I used to work in the web design shop, the announcement of the Pantone Colour of the Year was always highly anticipated. Mainly because everyone hoped their personal favourite colour would be chosen. It never happened to me, but I wasn’t fazed, there’s seldom a COTY I don’t like.

Anyway the colour (color?) of the year for 2023 is Viva Magenta 18-1750. I like it. The colour. And the name. To me, it sounds like the name of a planet that might feature in a sci-fi space opera movie franchise.

If you’re a designer though, here’s what you need to know to create Viva Magenta 18-1750. And to mark the momentous occasion on the design calendar, the disassociated website logo will be coloured Viva Magenta 18-1750 for the next little while.

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For a hard boiled brew try deep fried coffee beans

3 December 2022

Instead of roasting some coffee beans, the more usual process for preparing beans for brewing, British coffee connoisseur James Hoffmann decided to deep fry a batch.

Like Hoffmann, I was unsure why anyone would actually, or ever want to, deep dry coffee beans, but his experiment is purely in the name of curiosity. After the beans have been fried, Hoffmann prepared two brews to sample. One by filter, the other by shot. All very interesting I’m sure, but I might stick to drinking roasted bean coffee…

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Gaslighting named Merriam-Webster dictionary word of 2022

3 December 2022

Hopefully by making gaslighting their word of the year of 2022, online dictionary Merriam-Webster increases awareness of the the insidious practice:

Psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.

Merriam-Webster words of the year appear to be selected according to the number of lookups of the word in the previous twelve months. Oligarch, codify, and loamy, were also among those frequently enquired upon. But Loamy is an intriguing inclusion, because surely dirt and soil related matters wouldn’t be of much interest to a great many people. Well, you’d be surprised. Loamy found its spot in the limelight after being featured on word game Wordle earlier this year.

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Sydney Modern builders become artworks by Richard Lewer

3 December 2022

The stunning new Sydney Modern Project, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, opened to the public for the first time today. Replete with glass, metal, light tones, and large open, naturally lit spaces, on the upper levels at least, Sydney Modern was designed by Tokyo based Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa.

While much has been said about their contribution to the project, they are not alone in seeing their efforts recognised. Melbourne based New Zealand artist Richard Lewer spent time during construction the new gallery, drawing some of the workers who brought the building into being.

I don’t how often this sort of thing happens, but now the industry and hard work of the building crew forms a collection titled Onsite, construction of Sydney Modern which resides on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, which can presently be viewed in the contemporary galleries.

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Spotify Wrapped 2022 into the genre-verse and Aussietronica

1 December 2022
The Replayer, a Spotify music listening personality type

Spotify Wrapped for 2022 has dropped, and once again the music streaming service is bamboozling listeners with custom genre definitions and statistics that apparently place some listeners into what appear to be elite music listening categories. And it also looks like we have listening personalities.

One of my top genres — in what Spotify now call the genre-verse, a nod to Mastodon’s fediverse perhaps — is a genre dubbed Aussietronica. To spare scrolling pages and pages of search engine results, I’m going to take a punt here, because it seems quite self-explanatory, and state the obvious: this is Australian made electronica. I’d simply call it electronica, but have to admit Aussietronica is kind of cute, and maybe saves us from having to say “Australian made electronica” all the time.

And for a moment I thought I was kind of special when Wrapped informed me I was among the top five percent of listeners of Sydney based, yeah, Aussietronica act RÜFÜS DU SOL. I played their 2021 track Alive on loop earlier this year as I was re-booting disassociated. But a glance at Twitter trending revealed I was anything but special. Some people are finding themselves in even more exclusive bands, such as, but not limited to, point zero five percent.

I also learned I have a listening personality. To be precise I have a listening personality type, just like you (allegedly) have a Myers–Briggs type. My listening personality type, according to Spotify is F T L U, being Familiarity Timelessness Loyalty Uniqueness. The Replayer, they call me. The F and the L are doubtless a result of the aforementioned looping of Alive.

Listening personalities, all be they a gimmick, are kind of cool though. In fact I’ll go out on a limb and declare the Spotify listening personalities might just be a little more scientific than the other type indicator. But Wrapped is, according the Wikipedia page, a viral marketing campaign, so it is doing its job, getting the interwebs excited, once again, about our music listening preferences and habits.

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Sydney act 1300 wins Triple J/RAGE music video of 2022

28 November 2022

And before another Ausmusic month, and November for that matter, falls behind us… Western Sydney based Korean rap act 1300 have won the music video of the year for 2022, with their clip Oldboy in the 2022 J Awards. The video was directed by long-time collaborator Raghav Rampal.

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Trailer for Moja Vesna the debut feature of Sara Kern

27 November 2022

Moja Vesna is the slow-burning, deeply affecting, debut feature of Melbourne based Slovenian-Australian filmmaker Sara Kern, which premiered at the 2022 Melbourne International Film Festival. The trailer is certainly gripping.

In Melbourne’s outer suburbs, reticent Moja, her well-meaning Slovenian father Miloš and her volatile older sister Vesna all struggle to cope with the impacts of a significant death. But Vesna is in denial about the demands of late-stage pregnancy and Miloš barely speaks a word of English, so Moja is forced to assume the role of stabilising presence and cultural mediator — with little chance to mourn the loss of their mother.

Moja Vesna commences a theatrical season in Australian cinemas from today.

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Antigone Kefala wins 2022 Patrick White literary award

27 November 2022

Antigone Kefala, an Australian poet of Greek-Romanian heritage, has been named winner of the 2022 Patrick White Award.

In 1973 Patrick White became the first Australian author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and he used the prize money to create an award for Australian writers. The winning author is usually an established writer who administrators of the prize feel has been not been adequately recognised during their career. Further, the winner is selected, rather than being nominated, so the prize could — in a sense — be regarded as a lifetime achievement award.

If you’re a fan of poetry, and aren’t familiar with Kefala’s work, now might be the time to become acquainted with her free-form verse, that has variously been described as “minimalist” and having an “almost metaphysical detachment.”

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Gravidity and Parity by Eleanor Jackson wins 2022 SPN book of year

25 November 2022
Gravidity and Parity by Eleanor Jackson, book cover

Gravidity and Parity, written by Eleanor Jackson, and published by Vagabond Press, has been named winner of the Small Press Network (SPN) Book of the Year award.

Gravidity and Parity is a poignant and intricate collection of poetry that guides the reader into the journey of motherhood, pulling no punches in how it addresses and details all that is often unsaid or unknown about pregnancy. The book is set during the COVID pandemic, and author Eleanor Jackson beautifully encapsulates this all-too-familiar moment in recent history, reflecting on themes of connectedness and isolation.

The SPN does invaluable work representing the interests of over two hundred and fifty small and independent book publishers in Australia and New Zealand.

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The Sun will not go supernova but it may still drive us away

25 November 2022

In five billion years, hopefully long after a, hopefully, still extant humanity have departed the solar system for a new home somewhere among the stars, the Sun will become a red giant star. In this late phase of its life, the Sun will expand in size to engulf all the solar system’s inner planets.

While this part of the Sun’s lifecycle will be relatively short-lived — some estimates suggest a mere one billion years — our home planet will have well and truly been obliterated, by the time the Sun shrinks in size again. Unless of course any of our descendants, who stayed home, succeeded in moving Earth further out into the solar system.

The idea has been mooted previously. Even before the Sun becomes a red giant, its gradually increasing heat output, or luminosity, will, in time, make living on Earth ever more uncomfortable.

Such as undertaking will be quite the feat of astronomical engineering. Being able to move the planet will be an achievement in itself, to say nothing of navigating to a suitable spot elsewhere, clear of the larger outer planets. But what happens when the Sun shrinks and cools off again? Do we try and send Earth sunwards again? Perhaps our efforts would be better served finding a Earth-twin planet to live on, orbiting a younger star. And, while we’re at it, figuring out a way of reaching said location in a reasonable timeframe.

At least it’s not something we need concern ourselves with right this minute though. Likewise, the prospect of the Sun exploding as a supernova. It’s something that cannot happen. But what about another star — one in the approximate proximity of the solar system — going supernova? That could be a whole another story.

That’s the question the people at Kurzgesagt explore this month, in their latest video presentation. Again the prospect of a relatively nearby star exploding is not something that will occur any time soon. At present, IK Pegasi, a binary star some one hundred and fifty four light years away, is the nearest possibility, though by the time it is projected to explode, it will be more like five hundred light years distant.

Still as Kurzgesagt explains, risks remain, and even supernovas occurring at some distance could have an impact, no matter how minor, on Earth.

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You Don’t Know What War Is a book by Yeva Skalietska

25 November 2022
You Don't Know What War Is, by Yeva Skalietska, book cover

Nine months have passed since Russia commenced its illegal invasion of Ukraine. Despite the brutality of the aggressors, Ukrainian defenders have steadfastly resisted Russian attempts to deprive them of their sovereignty. And while many of us empathise with the struggle of the Ukrainian people, few can truly understand the horrors they confront daily.

Stories and books, such as You Don’t Know What War Is (published by Bloomsbury), written by twelve year old Ukrainian girl Yeva Skalietska, are vital when it comes to appreciating what is happening, even if they can only impart some of the experience, some of the constant, around the clock, fear:

Everyone knows the word ‘war’. But very few understand what it truly means. When you find you have to face it, you feel totally lost, walled in by fright and despair. Until you’ve been there, you don’t know what war is.

This is the gripping and moving diary of young Ukrainian refugee Yeva Skalietska. It follows twelve days in Ukraine that changed 12-year-old Yeva’s life forever. She was woken in the early hours to the terrifying sounds of shelling. Russia had invaded Ukraine, and her beloved Kharkiv home was no longer the safe haven it should have been. It was while she was forced to seek shelter in a damp, cramped basement that Yeva decided to write down her story. And it is a story the world needs to hear.

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Twitter 2.0 is not a start-up much as Elon Musk likes to believe it

25 November 2022

Tegan Jones, writing at Crikey, on Twitter owner Elon Musk’s… vision of the social media service being some sort of start-up, as of the minute he assumed control. Twitter was established in 2006, so we might be a little passed the development phase of the operation by now, no?

So no, Musk isn’t asking more of his remaining employees simply to improve the platform or make up for past financial woes. And it’s certainly not about overcoming the odds to build something together to change the world, which is oftentimes the north star of young start-ups. These employees are being asked, and in some cases coerced due to lack of options, to dedicate their lives to pay off a billionaire’s offensively large debt on a vanity project he didn’t even want. That is not start-up culture.

Despite Musk’s philanthropy, his wealth and privilege has bestowed him with a singular outlook of the world. While it’s unlikely he has much in the way of home duties, or family obligations — at least that’s the impression created — he could easily afford to outsource them anyway. Other Twitter employees are unlikely to be so fortunate. Instead, they’re simply expected to be hard core, and work until all hours of the night. Or be fired. Awesome.

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Vance Joy, Baker Boy, Archie Roach win at 2022 ARIAs

24 November 2022

Melbourne based Australian indie pop musician Vance Joy has won the Best Video award for his 2022 single Every Side of You, which was directed by William Bleakley, at Australian music’s night of nights, the ARIAs.

Meanwhile fellow Melbourne music act Baker Boy also known as Danzal Baker, picked up five ARIA awards, being Album of the Year, Best Hip Hop/Rap release, Best Solo Artist, Best Cover Art, and Best Mixed Album.

Other winners included Amyl and the Sniffers, who collected the Best Group and Best Rock Album, while late Indigenous singer and songwriter Archie Roach won the Best Independent Release award. A full list of winners is here .

Update: not sure how I missed this, but the Australian Chamber Orchestra also had an ARIAs win, being awarded Best Original Soundtrack, for their work on Australian made documentary River.

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Tropical cyclones may return to Sydney coastal region

24 November 2022

For about thirty years, until the mid-seventies, tropical cyclones were relatively regular weather events in the Sydney region, but now meteorologists are concerned they may return. But climate change is not behind their possible re-emergence, rather changes in the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO):

The inordinate frequency of cyclones from the 40s to the 70s and the disappearance in recent decades is not random variability. A 2020 report in the Journal of Southern Hemisphere Earth Systems links NSW cyclone activity with changes in the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). The current state of the IPO and other cyclone influences has rapidly shifted in the past three years to resemble the 1950s. Meaning, the current phase of the Pacific is conducive to tropical cyclones impacting NSW.

While more often see in northern regions of Australia, tropical cyclones haven’t reached Sydney in decades, but they have impacted some parts of NSW, bringing flooding and storm damage with them.

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Penguin Random House calls off Simon & Schuster merger

23 November 2022

Penguin Random House, one of the world’s largest book publishers, has called off a proposed merger with Simon & Schuster. Last month, a United States court blocked the proposal, on the grounds competition, and remuneration to authors, stood to be adversely effected. Initially Penguin had indicated they would appeal the ruling, in the hope the deal could still go ahead. The merger, had it proceeded, would have reduced the world’s major publishers from five to four.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the deal in November 2021. In hearings held in August, the government argued that the largest five publishers control 90% of the market, and a combined Penguin and Simon & Schuster would control nearly half of the market for publishing rights to blockbuster books, while its nearest competitors would be less than half its size.

Hopefully this is a good outcome for authors and book readers. However, Paramount Global, who own Simon & Schuster, have expressed a desire to divest itself of the book publisher, as the film production company sees ownership of a publisher as a non-core asset. This probably means we’ll see Simon & Schuster being brought to the market again, at some point in the future.

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National Dictionary Centre word of 2022 delivered on teal wave

23 November 2022

The Australian federal election, held in May 2022, saw a record number of teal, or independent, MPs elected to the Australian Parliament. Their strong showing has variously been labelled a teal bath or teal wave, after many teal candidates unseated a significant number of sitting members, most of whom belonged to the previous Liberal-National Coalition government.

It perhaps comes as no surprise then to learn the Australian National Dictionary Centre has declared “teal” as their word of 2022:

Previously associated with a dark greenish-blue colour, or even a breed of duck, teal now has another meaning in Australian English. The word came to prominence this year during the federal election. A ‘teal wave’ of independents successfully challenged government members of parliament in a number of seats.

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Those Dashing McDonagh Sisters by Mandy Sayer

22 November 2022
Those Dashing McDonagh Sisters, by Mandy Sayer, book cover

The McDonagh Sisters, Isabel, Phyllis, and Paulette, were Australian film producers active almost one hundred years ago. Based in Sydney, the trio made six films, including two documentaries, in an age of filmmaking that saw the transition from silent features to sound, or talkies.

The youngest, Paulette, was one of only five women film directors in the world. Phyllis produced, art directed, and conducted publicity. And the eldest, Isabel, under her stage name Marie Lorraine, acted superbly in all the female leads. Together, the sisters transformed Australian cinema’s preoccupations with the outback and the bush — and what they mocked as ‘haystack movies’ — into a thrilling, urban modernity.

Their work and lives are the subject of a new book, Those Dashing McDonagh Sisters: Australia’s First Female Filmmaking Team, published by UNSW Press, by Sydney based Australian writer and novelist Mandy Sayer.

The sister’s stories are a fascinating chapter in the history of both Australian film production, and Australia itself. Sayer’s book will help introduce their now often overlooked work to a new generation of people with an interest in Australian filmmaking and its past. For a glimpse of the McDonagh’s work, have a look at this trailer for their 1930 film The Cheaters.

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Seth Godin: Mastodon is a federation not a corporation

21 November 2022

Inconvenient. Difficult. Different. Resilient. Social network Mastodon — viewed by some as a Twitter alternative — as seen by American author, entrepreneur, and master of short-form blogging, Seth Godin:

It’s a network in the real internet sense of the word. It’s not just a network of users, it’s a network of servers as well. No one owns it. Like email, it’s a set of principles and rules, not a place. A federation is different than a corporation. It might not be as shiny, but it’s far more resilient. It’s inconvenient. You can’t get started in ten seconds. This leads to less initial stickiness. It means that the people who get through the learning curve are more likely to be committed and perhaps generous.

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Tune into the aftermath of the Big Bang on television

21 November 2022

If you’re still using an aerial (is that still a thing?) instead of cable (is that still a thing?) or internet, to watch TV, and — presumably — still possess an old school (think rabbit ears) TV, you may be able to pickup remnants of the Big Bang, the force of cosmic nature, that brought the universe into being.

Like COBE, WMAP scans the sky over and over again, soaking up the ancient light from the Big Bang known as the cosmic microwave background. Microwaves are a low-energy form of radiation but higher in energy than radio waves. The cosmic microwave background blankets the universe and is responsible for a sizeable amount of static on your television set–well, before the days of cable. Turn your television to an “in between” channel, and part of the static you’ll see is the afterglow of the big bang.

All you’d see is static, some of which may be post Big Bang microwaves bouncing around the cosmos, but it might be more interesting than some of what is broadcast on the terrestrial channels.

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Blurb Your Enthusiasm by Louise Willder book blurbs uncovered

21 November 2022
Blurb Your Enthusiasm by Louise Willder, book cover

You’ve probably read more of the work of London based copywriter Louise Willder than you realise. Although her writings can be found in bookshops across the world, Willder has only ever written one book, which was published in October 2022.

Certainly Willder may not be in the same league as Elena Ferrante, Sally Rooney, or Kazuo Ishiguro, but her work may well have adorned one of their novels. Willder is a book blurb writer, and in a twenty-five year career at Penguin Books, estimates she has penned some five-thousand of these attention grabbing pitches, intended to entice someone to buy the book in their hands, having read the blurb printed on the dust jacket.

And in Blurb Your Enthusiasm (published by Simon & Schuster), Willder shares all she has learned about the craft of blurb writing:

We love the words in books — but what about the words on them? How do they work their magic? Here is a book about the ways books entice us to read them: their titles, quotes, covers and, above all, blurbs — via authors from Jane Austen to Zadie Smith, writing tricks, classic literature, bonkbusters, plot spoilers and publishing secrets. It’s nothing less than the inside story of the outside of books.

For my part, blurbs are something I take or leave. If a novel has a good enough recommendation — for instance it has been shortlisted for a literary prize — I’ll probably only settle for reading a mere outline of the story. And if I notice an endorsing blurb written by another (high profile) author, I’ll just about always ignore it. While I can’t be sure, I often get the feeling such “endorsements” have been given over sight unseen so to speak.

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